The tone debate: how to be critical in science

Derksen, M. (Speaker)

Activity: Talk and presentationAcademic event Academic


Since the replication crisis began in 2011 there have been a number of heated controversies, usually over the results of replication studies. In these controversies, accusations of bullying, bad faith, a lack of civility and professional courtesy, and other moral flaws are regularly exchanged. A ‘tone debate’ has developed, recognised as a specific, ongoing discussion in and with the reform movement in psychology. The tone debate is not merely about tone and manners: in debating how to debate, psychologists explore the connections between knowledge, power, and subjectivity. In what is at first sight a marginal ‘meta-debate’, and is in fact considered as such by some of the psychologists involved, fundamental issues are at stake. What is the place of criticism in science, and how to do criticism? How to be both critical and collegial? Is it possible to separate the science and the scientist? I will show that the tone debate has brought an increasing focus on the virtues of the scientific self. It is no longer enough to follow procedures: being good is as important as doing the right thing. I will argue that this transforms relations between knowledge, power, and subjectivity in science.
Event titleReplication of crises: Psychology in Times of Epistemic Upheaval
Event typeWorkshop
LocationLübeck, Germany
Degree of RecognitionInternational